Traffic cop who lost his daughter and grandson calls for Easter road safety

Highway Patrol Unit Acting Sergeant Darryl Crowley has had to deal with the death of his daughter and grandson.
Highway Patrol Unit Acting Sergeant Darryl Crowley has had to deal with the death of his daughter and grandson. Photo: Wayne Taylor

When you're a highway patrol policeman for long enough you know the day will come when someone you know is killed on the road, but never did Darryl Crowley think it would hit so close to the bone.

His daughter Kelly Crowley, 34, and her son Ethan Healey, 9, were killed in a car crash two weeks ago near Yea, on their way home to Yarra Glen from a long-weekend camping holiday.

"You always think it's going to happen to someone else. But the reality is, it can happen to anyone," Mr Crowley said.

Crash victims Kelly Crowley and her son, Ethan Healey, 9. They were killed a fortnight ago in a car crash near Yea.
Crash victims Kelly Crowley and her son, Ethan Healey, 9. They were killed a fortnight ago in a car crash near Yea. Photo: Tammy Mills

"I've attended many fatalities and when it happens to your family, it hits you twice as bad."

The 59-year-old acting sergeant has been a cop for 23 years and a highway patrol officer based in Sale for a decade.

His knowledge of what happens when a car crashes makes his daughter and grandson's death even harder to bear.

He knows what can happen to a car when it wraps around a tree. He knows what can happen to the people inside. He also knows how easy it is for drivers to be killed on the road.

"The pain we are feeling at the moment as a result of what's happened, what would have happened if she had a five-minute break?" Mr Crowley said.

Police are investigating fatigue as a major factor in causing the crash.

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Ms Crowley, a hospitality manager at Yarra Valley winery Domaine Chandon, failed to take a bend on the Goulburn Valley Highway just before Yea and the car rolled, careening through a paddock fence.

She was returning from a camping holiday at Jamieson on March 9, the day of the crash, with Ethan and her daughters Sierra, 6, and Tahli, 2, who were also in the car.

Mr Crowley said Sierra and Tahli, who suffered broken bones, are now home from hospital and attended their mother and brother's funerals in Lilydale on Friday.

Highway Patrol Unit Acting Sergeant Darryl Crowley.
Highway Patrol Unit Acting Sergeant Darryl Crowley.  Photo: Wayne Taylor

"One life lost on the roads is one too many, the grief it has caused to myself, my wife Tanya, my children Daniel, Leigh and Ashlea [Kelly's siblings] cannot be measured. The pain is unbearable," he said.

Mr Crowley returned to work on Monday and he's dreading the next collision he has to attend.

"I don't know how I'll cope. The only way I'm coping at the moment is having a purpose," he said.

That purpose is sending the same road safety message he has been pushing as a policeman for years, though it has now taken on a terrible new meaning.

"I ask all road users coming up to and during the Easter holidays to please think of your loved ones and take rest breaks and drive to the road conditions, get home safely and help reduce the road trauma over Easter," Mr Crowley said.

"If one person listens to what I have to say and it saves their life, then I have created a legacy for and in memory of our daughter and sister, Kelly."